Feature Article of Sat, 18 Mar 20173

Gambling with human lives: the situation in our training institutions

Noose rope

By: Baffour, Prince Kyei

As the saying goes, “So far as the head has not fallen, it will not seize to be the bearer of the hat” . In the same spirit, so far as people, by their actions or inactions continue to gamble with the lives of others, such issues will continue to be talked or written about.

It is a delight for parents and families to see their wards advance in their education whether to the senior high school or tertiary level. The joy with which they welcome such news, fueled by the expectations they harbour in their hearts and minds motivates them to give their all to making the education of their wards a success. It is therefore disheartening when these parents and relatives of students are called only to be given news that nobody wants to hear; news of the death of their wards. One can imagine the psychological trauma that these parents go through but cannot accurately perceive or attempt to perceive what they actually go through. One can only imagine.

This year is only in its first quarter but has been riddled with the deaths of innocent students. A female student was accidentally hanged to death by her own dress when she was sneaking back to school after the spending the night outside school. Another student from Agona Secondary Technical School during the inter colleges athletics competition in the Ashanti Region was smashed into pieces and the images I saw on social media made my clinical rotation at the Accident and Emergency Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital look like child’s play. As if these deaths were not traumatic enough, four student nurses from the Sunyani Tanoso Nursing Training School lost their lives in an accident.

Now let us look as the actions and inactions of authorities that make me consider these events as a gamble with human lives. First of all, let us look at the manner in which these students are transported to the stadium. In most cases, the school buses are filled beyond capacity and some students who probably think that they are as agile as monkeys sit in windows and in positions that can increase your heart rate when you see these buses pass by.

In some situations, these buses may not be filled beyond capacity, yet students in their unbridled youthful exuberance still decide to sit in windows. In other situations, the drivers of these buses are urged on by students to overtake the buses of other schools to show some superiority of some sort which only exists in their heads. At the stadium, teachers get seated at the VIP section of the stadium feeling very important whiles their students engage in molestation and unnecessary exchanges that get blown into very violent encounters that land some students in the hospital.

These events beg the questions; where are the teachers of these students when all these are going on? If they happen to be with them on the buses why don’t they intervene when the students start misbehaving? What level of control do teachers have over the students from the VIP section of the stadium? Will the student have died that horrible death if he had been comfortably seated inside the car? Where are our police officers when these things are happening? Why are these drivers given a free pass even when spotted by the police?

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Regarding the students who lost their lives when they were supposed to be in school, some questions also arise. What could have been done to ensure that these students stayed in school? Are the measures that are in place to keep students within bounds enough? If not what are school authorities doing about it? So far as students leave the school through physical and not spiritual means, no excuse is acceptable from school authorities.

On the issue of the recent incidents of suicide in some tertiary institutions one may ask: are the guidance and counseling measures in schools adequate? Are they effective? Is there a working relationship between counselors and students? What is the counselor to student ratio? If the answers to any of these questions is negative, then indeed the lives of our dear ones in training institutions are being gambled with and measures must be put in place to curb this within the shortest possible time before another preventable death occurs.

I agree that young people should have fun and that our students in the tertiary institutions should be given their freedom but we should make sure that in giving out this freedom we do judiciously in a way that does not give birth to serious problems.

To the young exuberant men and women in our training institutions, it is nice to have fun but it is nicer to grow into an adult whose education becomes useful to himself, his family, the country and the world at large. We will all die one day but we don’t have to die today. Let us practise what I call WISDOM-CALIBRATED FUN.

God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation safe and sound.

By: Prince KYEI BAFFOUR

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